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Between St Annes and Blackpool off A584
Contact in advance
Mrs Jane Donohoe
George Lowe, Sandy Herd
The Fylde Coast is famous for its golden sandy beaches, promenades, piers and of course its famous tower, which dominates the skyline. Blackpool Tower – a half size copy of the Eiffel Tower – was completed way back in 1894, but golf at St Annes Old Links Golf Club was first played years before the tower had even reached the drawing board.
Running parallel with each other, the 10th and 18th holes at St Annes Old Links are all that now remains of the original St Annes Golf Club. The spread of late Victorian home building forced the St Annes club to relocate to southern side of the bustling seaside town, now the esteemed home of the Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club. But, with great foresight, a number of keen golfers came together in 1901 to re-establish a course on the vacant site. George Lowe, the club’s first professional, laid out the original nine holes and, nine years later, Sandy Herd extended the course to eighteen holes.
St Annes Old Links is a challenging layout and it has been used for numerous championships, including Open Qualifying in conjunction with Royal Lytham & St Annes. The course is flat, windswept and stark where little other than a few twisted trees survive the fierce westerly winds. This pure links course is a certainly a challenge and the best holes are to be found on the southern edge, nearest the clubhouse.
The 9th is the most famous hole at St Annes Old Links with its long green, which is hardly visible from the tee. According to reports, Bobby Jones took detailed measurements of this hole, called “Cannon”, when playing here during the 1926 Open. Perhaps a similar hole is in play somewhere in America?
There are three excellent courses in and around Lytham St Annes. Royal Lytham and St Annes needs no introduction but if you include St Annes Old Links alongside Fairhaven and its Royal neighbour, then you will have played a trio of delights.
St Annes Old Links sits amongst distinguished guests along England's North West coast. It holds its own.
However, this is a different type of course compared to some of the big names in this part of the country. It is flatter and more expansive than its neighbours but is still a true test of your game and must be respected.
Like all links courses the wind can have a huge impact on the way a course plays. The routing of St. Annes Old Links does consist of 'two loops' of nine, bringing you back to the clubhouse at the halfway stage (more on that later) but many of the holes run in a similar direction, therefore, you are often faced with the same wind direction on a lot of the holes. The course has four par 3's and it is mostly these that run in a different direction to the longer holes.
I wasn't a huge fan of St. Annes Old Links when I played it for the first time over two decades ago. Over the years I've become more impressed with it after each visit and always look forward to my next round. There are some really well placed bunkers and you need to think your way round the course at times. It offers much to ponder whilst walking between shots. Trains regularly pass down the side of the 17th and 18th at regular intervals whilst a flurry of planes landing and taking off from bordering Blackpool airport can be seen. The backdrop of Blackpool Tower and the Big Dipper are visible on most of the holes too.
The main downside for me (even most of the best courses have one) is that on some of the holes you can be better off wider of the (well placed) fairway bunkers. Miss the hazards and you usually have a shot from the rough or an adjacent fairway. I suspect for national championships, of which the course hosts many, the rough will be more exacting but the fundamental principal remains the same.
The lack of sea views, huge dunes and rolling fairways may not appeal to some, others may not like the openness of looking across several fairways and a few may not appreciate the subtleties of the greens, however, as a test of golf it will examine every sinew of your game. Lovers of true links golf understand St. Annes Old Links.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
This review is not adjusted for value for money, which is undeniable in this mostly over priced area.
This is an honest old links course that is mostly flat, true running with firm greens that you can putt to from almost anywhere.
Nice 2 9's out and back layout with a stand out hole (9) that is as good as sadly it is out of character from the rest of the flattish course.
Good, honest, old style, unspectacular links golf well worth a game if you like this sort of thing (which I do!).
St Annes is a decent, honest links course set over some fairly flat land. It has some special holes, namely 9 & 10 that play in an around some heavy dunes and the long finishing holes will test you. All of the par 3s were very good but to be honest I can't recall a lot of the par 4s and I played last week. I know I didn't have any issues with conditioning, greens or design and I certainly didn't have any issues with price. Expecting to pay the advertised 50pd afternoon rate I instead got the half price, unadvertised twilight rate, an hour early. Many thanks to the pro who suggested this. So for VFM, as per the argument below, SAOL is a 7 baller along with Kings Links in Aberdeen which was 8pds and Birkdale is stripped back to 3 balls, but I don't consider cost so a strong 4 balls. The course is a rugged little course, kind of reminded me a bit of Panmure but not quite as gnarly or interesting. Warren from Australia
I think Hugh did read your review correctly - you gave the course a 6 ball rating and he simply said it's not worth that. He's right.
It's good that you call out value for money - it's important and useful info- but courses on this site should ideally be ranked purely on the quality of the golf course experience
I tend to agree with BB, value is an important consideration but if it is going to be a main criteria then Kings Links up at Aberdeen at 8 quid gets 6 balls. To me St Annes is good value and a strong 4 balls whether I played it for 30 pounds or 130.